Florida, other states say generic drug firms conspired

Cheryl Sanders
May 14, 2019

Attorneys general from more than 40 states, including Nebraska and Iowa, are alleging the nation's largest generic drug manufacturers conspired to artificially inflate and manipulate prices for more than 100 different generic drugs, including treatments for diabetes, cancer, arthritis and other medical conditions. The lawsuit, which comes after a multi-year investigation spearheaded by the CT attorney general's office, contends that the companies colluded to raise drug prices.

But in a statement Sunday in response to a "60 Minutes" report about the investigation and lawsuit, the Association for Accessible Medicines, an industry group, said it and generic-drug companies "are committed to supporting policies that promote competition and help speed the availability of generic and biosimilar medicines to patients".

Generic drugs can save drug buyers and taxpayers tens of billions of dollars a year because they are a lower-priced alternative to brand-name drugs.

Seven Indian drug makers, including Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd and Dr Reddy's Laboratories Ltd, and five of their executives have been named in a United States lawsuit that accuses Israel's Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd of orchestrating a conspiracy to raise medicine prices.

As a result of the drug companies' conspiracies, it said, consumers and states paid "substantially inflated and anticompetitive prices for numerous generic pharmaceutical drugs" while the drug companies profited.

The lawsuit claims that executives at various pharmaceutical companies secretly conspired to fix prices, which is illegal.

Teva Pharmaceuticals, an Israeli company, has denied the allegations and says it will fight the lawsuit.

The 500-page lawsuit accuses the generic drug industry, which mainly sells medicines that are off patent and should be less expensive, of a long history of discreet agreements to ensure that companies that are supposedly competitors each get a "fair share".

"The allegations in this new complaint, and in the litigation more generally, are just that - allegations", TEVA told Reuters.

These prices were sometimes raised by as much as 1000 percent on more than 80 drugs between July 2013 and January 2015.

"There have been no developments in this area", he said. The first, filed in 2016, named 18 corporate defendants and two individual defendants. In some instances, the coordinated price increases were more than 1,000 percent, the lawsuit said.

A spokesman for Teva said the firm hasn't engaged in any conduct that would lead to civil or criminal liability.

The civil suit is asking for a finding that the defendants' actions violated federal and state antitrust and consumer protection laws and is seeking a permanent injunction preventing the companies from continuing the conduct.

Reportedly, the drug companies sought to maintain what they thought were "fair shares" of the generic drugs market.

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